Saracens 38-19 Glasgow

Having secured a last 8 berth before a ball was kicked (cheers Big Brother), Glasgow knew they could play an adventurous game with nothing to lose.

Which is just as well really, as Sarries came thundering out of the gates despite a late change meaning Alex Goode moved to 10 to replace Owen Farrell – nursing a thumb injury that required surgery. So many jokes to be used here, but he is still due to be fit for the 6 Nations. Glasgow couldn’t get hold of the ball and the English team, filled with actual giants like Brad Barritt, Vunipolas x 2 and a streamlined Schalk Burger, pounded on the door which eventually opened via some terrible defending from Grant Stewart. Ben Spencer got the score, and added the extras from the tee, which added to his early 3 pointer to give the home side a 10-point lead.

With Glasgow’s confidence being publicly questioned, surely this start meant it was just a question of how many points Sarries fancied?

No – Glasgow were here to play, and how so. First some delightful back play, including a ‘half-Finn’ 20m spinning bullet of a pass from Sam Johnson, sent Seymour over in the corner. Then cute play from Bob Harley charged down one of the endless box kicks that Spencer put up, which Ali Price snapped up. He looked as surprised as anyone when a path cleared to the try line and he scampered along it. 12 points in a few minutes and Glasgow were well in this one.

Saracens went back to form after this, tightening the game up to strangle Glasgow’s ambition. Maul after maul saw Koch storm over for the 2nd home score, but captain Wilson, looking back to some degree of form (before exiting early with a suspected shoulder injury), had other ideas, picking a superb thundering line to crash over and give Glasgow the lead. Three tries for Glasgow in 20 minutes, and a very good performance.

Then the wheels started to come off…

Some typically physical play from Billy Vunipola running off the base of a 5m scrum ended in the inevitable 7 pointer, with Fusaro tackling too high, Hastings too small and no one else there to help. Saracens were back in the lead.

Half-time: Saracens 24 – 19 Glasgow

Saracens looked a different beast in the second 40, perhaps done with any sense of occasion and determined now to ensure that Glasgow’s faint hopes of being pool winners were extinguished.

This was promptly achieved when some quality play from George Kruis and Jamie George sent Maro Itoije over. It was game over from a pool winning perspective but still Glasgow had the chance to move up the rankings in the confusing (even for an analyst by trade) system of determining quarter finalists.

Grant Stewart unfortunately has had some issues with his darts since his rapid promotion due to the injuries to Fraser Brown and George Turner. Today was no exception and it cost Glasgow dearly once again. Time and again good Glasgow positions went unconverted, and 90% of this was due to the lineout faltering. Can we borrow a throwing coach from anywhere?

Glasgow chased the game late on, but Saracens stayed form and picked them off with a final score from Will Skelton, adding perhaps a degree of authority to the score line which wasn’t evident certainly in the 1st half.

With a return trip to the Allianz the outcome, Glasgow will be hoping it is third time lucky in leafy London.

SRBlog Man of the Match: The sponsors had their say, with Maro Itoje getting the gong but from a Glasgow perspective it was Ali Price who really led the charge, looking back to his best just in time for the Six Nations. Honourable mentions too for Sam Johnson and Ryan Wilson.

Saracens: Williams; Lewington, Tompkins, Barritt, Strettle; Goode, Spencer; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Kruis, Wray, Burger, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Tolofua (for George, 76), Barrington (for M Vunipola, 70), Judge (for Koch, 65), Skelton (for Wray, 58), Clark (for Burger, 52), Wigglesworth (for Spencer, 52), Lozowski (for Strettle, 14), Gallagher (for Lewington, 75).
Glasgow: Hogg; Seymour, Grigg, Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; Hastings, Price; Kebble, Stewart, Halanukonuka, Swinson, Gray, Harley, Fusaro, Wilson.
Replacements: Bryce (for Stewart, 52), Allan (or Kebble, 70), Rae (for Halanukonuka, 70), Ashe (for Gray, 41), Smith (for Wilson, 46), Horne (for Price, 65), Jones (for Johnson, 50), Matawalu (for Seymour, 65).

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Originally from the Isle of Bute, John is a Glasgow Warriors fan and retired crash ball specialist. John still enjoys the occasional rugby 'social' with his former team mates at Bute and Bishopton RFC

18 comments on “Saracens 38-19 Glasgow

  1. Scott M on

    Losing Gray at half time, that’s a big point of the game. Siua did well at scrum time but offers no where near the same as Zander in the loose. As much as I like Fusaro he’s no Callum Gibbins and we desperately need one of Turner or Brown back for these big games…

    We’ve shown that we can compete with Sarries but we need our best team out! If they get Farrel back and we get just a few of our front line injuries back then it’ll be some game…

    Good to see Price back into some form, I thought DTH looked really sharp. Hoggy had a lot of control at the back, he helped us win a lot of the kicking battles. Sam Johnson was good until his HIA and Kebble is some scrummager.

  2. thebigiam on

    I was greatly encouraged by the performance – especially for the first hour. The forwards just ran out of puff after dealing with “actual giants” all afternoon, and just couldn’t get to the breakdown quickly enough or with enough force.

    In defense of Stewart, he looked really good ball in hand. He was carrying a shoulder injury, which may explain some of his lineout work. I think he looks a great prospect, but obviously very raw for a hooker. Sadly, none of our hookers are amazing when it comes to lineouts. Not seen enough of him to be sure, but I think Malcolm might be the most reliable one…

    I think the team will have confidence for the QF – they have a gameplan that can work against Sarries now, and can score. Hopefully, a few injured guys will be back, and they will have a go, as no-one expects them to win. As we showed in this game, we’ll always have a puncher’s chance.

    Lastly, from a Scotland standpoint, I think Seymour looks back in good nick after the last couple of weeks. He’d be in my side come the Ireland game, assuming we beat Italy.

    • sceptic 9 on

      I went to the fans open day last season. Bit of fun, mostly aimed at kids, and not a lot of rugby.
      The one bit of rugby I recall was watching the various Glasgow hookers practice lineouts. They took turns . Fun stuff, throw lift jump pass. Malcolm didn’t hit the jumper once in 11 attempts, unopposed jumps. Just might be why he was loaned out.

      Do need a specialist coach in

      • Scott M on

        Interestingly I remember this being a major talking point when Cockers took over at Edinburgh… I believe it was McInally who hadn’t really received much in the way of specialist coaching for his throwing since converting from the back row.

  3. thebigiam on

    Haha. Well, I did say I’ve not seen a lot of Malcolm :D I support your specialist coach call, however. They could all do with a bit of extra support, I think.

  4. Merlot on

    The lineouts cost us the game. Time and again we lost precious possession, at least twice in good attacking positions and once when we were trying to clear our lines. Not good enough. It’s not like they can’t practice this sort of thing.
    You don’t need a specialist coach, just more practice. If we cannot get 90-95% success at lineouts we’re not going to win any games. On Saturday it was 75%!!!! It’s not as if Sarries were putting huge pressure on either – just poor throws (possibly mistimed jumping, but I don’t think so in this case).
    The rest of Stewart’s game was more impressive, but hopefully he’s already putting the hours of practice in to ensure he does the basics of hooker play better.

    • sceptic 9 on

      there are specialists coaches brought in for every aspect of the game. Kicking coach, Scrum coah, breakdown coach, defence coach etc etc etc No doubt unnecessary as all you need is practice, eh?

    • sceptic 9 on

      poor throws. poor timing of the jump and daft calls (to the back when it needs secure ball first up). We don’t learn

      Oh and Bryce wasn’t any better, nor have Brown and Turner been exactly flawless. Its a club issue

    • Ńéíł on

      I think we have to remember that Stewart is still kinda academy player and would officially still be one if Brown and Turner were fit, very tough to go toe to toe with Saracens in that aspect with there ridiculous sized forwards.

      It does not help that we have relatively small second rows.

      • Scott M on

        Agree with Neil, Stewart wasn’t too bad in the loose (apart from that complete non-tackle in the midfield). He actually has some promise its just a shame he’s having to earn his stripes playing European rugby against a top club rather than against clubs in the bottom end of the pro14.

  5. Andrew McGavin on

    Interesting how often Glasgow and Scotland score three tries in the first 30 minutes of a match, and then can’t get the fourth in the 2nd half, especially against opposition that grind us down. We get more conservative as we tire. Thinking about the Scotland v Ireland match at Murrayfield in 2017 particularly.

  6. Old Whistler on

    The scrum from which Vinupola scored should not have been awarded. After Kruis dropped the ball trying to score, it was knocked back into in-goal by Hastings but was not touched down (which would have merited the scrum), but picked up by Seymour who could have cleared the ball up field. However, the ref blew before the ball became dead.

    • sceptic 9 on

      ref had blown as he thought Kruis had scored, as did I live. So game then stops. Don’t agree Kruis dropped the ball, Hastings pushed it out of his grasp. Don’t see what other decision ref could give

      • Scott M on

        Glasgow didn’t commit any foul (pushed the ball back) and therefore as a ref, if you mistakenly blow up early as he did then you should award a scrum to the team in possession at the time of him blowing. If he wasn’t sure of the try he could have let play continue and asked TMO to check for a grounding.

        Similar to if you as a ref interfere with play i.e. blocking a tackler/runner, interfering with a pass etc

    • Bulldog on

      Great to hear a ref’s perspective.

      Purpose of this post , is to say keep them coming the rules are complex. Some posters have never played and some old dogs like me, belong back in the day when the scrum competed for the ball, not the penalty. We need coaching as well.

      Ref’s are human, it is not easy, thankfully rugby remains a game where the referee has respect (for now – it is going the wrong way but slowly).

      More posts of this nature please.

    • sceptic 9 on

      I accept that the scrum should have been to Glasgow. Was making the point that a scrum was the correct decision as opposed to “not have been awarded”. If I have misinterpreted that post, my bad. But the ball is dead when the ref blows the whistle, so its a scrum

  7. Andy Render on

    Lineout is a team effort – call, lift, throw and catch – easy to blame a hooker and to be fair some of them were poor throws but as others have said the whole unit looks to be short on confidence compared to some of the slicker units around such as Edinburgh, Leinster and Sarries.
    Depending on how the 6N treat both teams the 3rd leg could be a corker – a warm flat track we’ll have a chance but we need to be on top form and take everything.
    I though Nukanuka was kept on 10mins too long and contributed to Itoje score which took the wind from the Warriors.
    Some of the breakdown work was verging on WWE, perhaps not as bad as the Scotstoun missile launches but lots of attacking ruckers lying on top of the ruck. We can only hope for a strong ref – maybe a certain Mr Owens?

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